on January 10, 2012
Hi, I bought this book because the professor of my Canadian Literature class required it. It was interesting at the time and really gave me an interesting perspective of Canadian Literature.
The arguments put forward in this book, via essays and discussion, can be summed up in a simple comparison: USA is the novel; Canada is the short story.
Furthermore, this book was published first in 1972 and may serve well as an interesting snapshot of Canadian Literature to that date -- but any study of Canadian Literature now should obviously include blogging, journalism, social media, and of course everything else published in this country in the last 40 years.
on November 25, 1998
Atwood's Survival was a seminal book for me back in the 1970's. Her theory that there are national themes in literature is very useful for studying cultures generally. The rap on the book is that she has not done a thorough, scholarly job of research and tends to favour references to books written by her friends or published by her publisher. I think this is unfair. She is a working writer, not an academic, and she herself notes the book's scholarly limitations. The real fun is in taking the book's theses and running with them yourself.
Atwood sees the essential Canadian literary theme as the survival in the title: the survival of winter, imposed on us as Canadians by our geography and climate.
A very thought-provoking book.